A Few Bad Apples?

NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS

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NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--When referring to Short-Term Rentals (STRs) in Los Angeles, one City Councilmember said, “Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.” The Council must enact rules that recognize the difference between individuals responsibly engaged in sharing their private homes and the “bad actors” commercially exploiting short-term rentals. 

 

Los Angeles needs a workable, self-financing, and equitable STR ordinance. Most home sharing hosts agree to the key parts of the proposed home sharing ordinance but don’t want to be bullied by powerful interest groups. 

The hotel industry is one the biggest challengers of short-term rentals both in Los Angeles and nationwide. The New York Times recently reported that a key industry trade group, the American Hotel and Lodging Association, that count Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide and Hyatt Hotels as members has a budget of $5.6 million to fight Airbnb/Pro-STR legislation, even though hotel growth is surging in Southern California. According to the LA Times, more than 13,000 rooms were under construction during 2016, plus 66,000 more in the planning pipeline…[with] healthy profitability (continued growth in hotel revenues -- 11% for Los Angeles -- and high year-round occupancy rates.) 

Independent research shows most visitors to short-term rentals are not good hotels guests because STR guests desire a lower cost, are more adventurist, and want a personalized experience. The hotel industry is fighting to prevent STRs from becoming a relief valve for excessive hotel rates charged during high demand periods like holidays, big sports and convention events.  

Even though some traditional tourist areas like Venice and Hollywood have experienced serious problems with party houses, displacement of long-term rental tenants, and a high density of STRs, research shows that this is not representative of most areas in LA. To cite another wise old saying, “A few rotten apples can spoil the bushel.” Many of these bad apples are the ones exploiting their neighbors and neighborhoods. These folks need to be stopped! 

An observation across the city is also important to note: virtually all of the “bad apples” have one thing in common -- the property owners don’t live in (share) their short-term rentals. 

Another of our City Councilmembers said, “We seldom have complaints about STRs where the homeowner also lives in the house.” By design, owner-residents provide the support and supervision needed to keep everyone happy, with guests obeying the house and city rules and hosts keeping neighbors content. It makes sense and it works.  

I am not advocating for Commercial Short-Term Rentals but for responsible “home sharing.”   

This evolution in technology and efficient use of resources helps many families keep their homes and make ends meet. Unnecessary caps on home sharing across the city the size of LA is unfair to many responsible citizens and severely limits badly needed tax revenues. 

To achieve a fair and equitable coexistence between homeowners, hotels, and low-income housing needs, we must enact new rules that make a clear distinction between “Home Sharing” and “Commercial Short-Term Rentals.” Make an ordinance that recognizes the diverse needs of the over 500 square miles and almost four million people in the City of LA. 

 

(Stephen S. Naczinski, a Woodland Hills homeowner for over  20 years, is active in City and neighborhood issues and former Vice-Chair of the Woodland Hills-Warner Center Neighborhood Council (WHWCNC.) He served on the Community Advisory Committee for five years helping to produce the Warner Center 2035 Plan. He is a home sharing host. His position is solely his own and not of the WHWCNC or any other group.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

-cw

 

Tags: Stephen S. Naczinski, short-term rentals, hotel industry, STRs in Los Angeles, home sharing, Airbnb, American Hotel and Lodging Association

 

 

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